Back to the Future: Finding Historical Economic Forecasts

 

Business and economic forecasts that are past their shelf life, such as GDP forecasts for the year 2010 made in the year 2008,  might seem to be of little value.  But business researchers examine old forecasts to test their accuracy or to better understand the economic climate of a period. It is well known that forecasters almost universally missed predicting the “Great Recession” business decline of 2008/2009. For example,  The Economist’s  Poll of Forecasters for Jan 12, 2008 (pg. 89) predicted that U.S. GDP would increase 1.8% in 2008 and 2.6% in 2009.  GDP actually fell slightly in 2008 and was down 2.8% in 2009.

Here are some sources of historical forecasts that will let you exercise 20/20 hindsight.

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What’s the Deal? Researching Specific M&A Deals

Companies make acquisitions for two primary reasons: (1) to fill a strategic gap (products, resources (people), or capabilities) or (2) enable the company to enter a new market with a new revenue stream. Researching a company’s M&A activity provides insight into the corporate strategy. When researching a specific deal, we are often looking for deal financials and deal valuation. It’s also important to research the strategies behind the deal. We often want information on business drivers, overall strategy, execution plan, implementation, etc.

Let’s take a well-known deal as an example, eBay’s acquisition of Paypal. In 2002, eBay, the largest online auction platform bought, PayPal, a web-based payment service, for $1.5B. The deal was a perfect match – Paypal drove eBay’s revenues while eBay supported the growth of PayPal’s active user base. A decade later, it is evident that both businesses fueled each others growth. So how does one research a specific deal?

Start with Thomson One for deal information including deal financials, news, filings, and research.

Note that this database only works in Internet Explorer versions 7-9. Take a look at our blog post for an IE10 workaround or Chrome plug-in.

Go to Screening & Analysis => Deals & League Tables => M&A => Advanced Search. Continue reading

Don’t Know Much About ‘Corporate’ History: Historical Company Research

Many times the type of company information we are seeking is current. Current information can be easier to locate because new strategies and innovative business models are written about extensively in the news, business journals, and on the web. Researching a company’s history requires a slightly different strategy. Below are some resources to help you locate historical company information.

A good starting point is in the International Directory of Company Histories. This e-book (also available in print) covers 11,000 companies. Each concise company profile is between four and six pages long and covers statistics, dates and key players, as well as other important information like expansions and company strategies. The information is gathered from reliable sources such as academic journals, books, magazines, annual reports, and the company’s archives.

Pages from jc penney annual report

Annual Reports are a good source for historical company information. The Management Discussion & Analysis (MD&A) section of the annual report provides an overview of the previous year’s operations and often includes a discussion on future prospects like goals and strategies for the upcoming year. Annual reports are available in several subscription databases. Use our Business FAQ “Where can I find current and historical annual reports?” for access. Also, take a look at our previous post, Gimmie that Old Time Financial Statement for a detailed overview on finding annual reports.

Applied Science & Business Periodicals Retrospective (1913-1983) covers a wide range of historical trade journals (e.g. Journal of Retailing) and business magazines (e.g. BusinessWeek, Fortune, etc.). Search within this database by company name. For a company like J.C. Penney, whose name often appears differently, search for variations on the spelling/punctuation (e.g. j.c. penney OR j. c. penney OR penney stores OR penney, j.c. etc.). Continue reading

Finding the Full Text of U.S. and Canadian Business Dissertations

PhD dissertations are often overlooked as a source of information.

Current dissertations frequently deal with cutting edge research, and provide extensive bibliographies of sources. The Proquest databases ABI/Inform and Dissertations and Theses Fulltext index U.S. and Canadian PhD dissertations related to business topics, as well as provide the full text of many of the publications.

The most comprehensive source of U.S. and Canadian dissertations is Proquest Dissertations and Theses Fulltext. It includes all doctoral level dissertations completed at North American Universities.

To retrieve Penn dissertations by subject, do this search:

Dissertations search optionsType “University of Pennsylvania” (in quotes) as the School Name/code.

Then browse subjects, and choose, for example, Finance, as the Subject heading.

There are some 24,000 Penn dissertations, on all subjects, in the database spanning the years 1889-2013. About 10,000 of these are available as full text.

The database also includes indexing and abstracts of dissertations completed at leading European universities. However, there is little full text coverage of this material. For example, searching for “England” as the dissertation location will retrieve more than 30,000 dissertations, but less than 200 include the complete text.

The ABI/Inform database provides the complete text of some 35,000 U.S. and Canadian dissertations on business topics. To search for dissertations in ABI/Inform: Continue reading

Increase Your Market Share IQ

The cartoon character Dogbert gives this advice to the Boss:

“It’s easy to create a strategy – Write down everything you do preceded by the phrase Increase our Market Share by.

Creating strategy a la Dogbert is easy. Finding market share data can be tough.

Market share is the percentage of a market, usually defined in units or in revenue, accounted for by a company, a brand, a product, a commodity, or an institution.  The market can be defined geographically, as broadly as the entire world or as narrowly as a zip code. Market share figures are usually calculated for the year, but some industries require more frequent updates. For example, the publication MusicWeek gives weekly market shares by corporate group for artists’ singles and albums. In addition, we may want historical time series or a projection of market share data. The number of potential requests for specific combinations of products, companies, geography and time is almost endless.

Here are some sources for market share data.

Bloomberg

Bloomberg’s industry surveys module is a good source for market share data for more than one hundred industry groups. The screen below shows market share data for North American Passenger Airlines. Use the command BI <GO> to access Bloomberg Industries. Select an industry and then click on “Market Share” from the left-hand menu. Bloomberg is available at the Lippincott Library and Huntsman Hall.

Note that passenger airlines have their own unique market share metric “Revenue Passenger Kilometers”

bloomberg bi north american market share

Market Share Reporter Continue reading

Puttin’ on the Ritz – Sources for Data on Wealth

In the U.S. there is an increasing concentration of assets in the hands of the wealthy. This trend has given rise to phrases such as the “1%” and the “99%”.  Here are some data sources to help us answer such questions as “Who are the richest people?”, “How many of them are there?”, “How rich are they?”, and “How do they spend their money?”

Richest Lists

Forbes has a number of “richest people” lists in its magazine including Forbes World’s Billionaires and Forbes 400 The Richest People in America. In addition to names, photos, and net worth, the lists have information on residence, age, and source of income.  Using Forbes’ data, Wikipedia has compiled a convenient list of the Top 10 Richest People in the world by year from 2000 on.

Rich Demographics

Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management’s 2012 World Wealth Report is a freely available annual survey of “High Net Worth Individuals” (HNWI) from 70 countries. HNWI are defined as those with financial assets, excluding residence, of more than 1 million US dollars. Capgemini also discusses “Ultra HNWIs” individuals with financial assets of more than 30 million dollars. The report includes statistics on type of financial assets and a ranking of high wealth individuals by geographic area and country. Continue reading

Put Your Wallet Away: The Library has the Wall Street Journal

Have you heard that the Wall Street Journal is available to students online, but can’t seem to find Penn’s subscription on the WSJ website?

Wall Stree Journal Logo

You are not alone. The Lippincott Library has full-text access to the newspaper, but not through WSJ online. You can access the newspaper through several of our subscription databases.  Below is an outline of the many places you can find the Wall Street Journal, both current and historical.

CURRENT

Dow Jones Factiva is a key source for news information, covering 35,000+ full-text newspapers and magazines, including key papers like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.  Coverage of the WSJ in this database goes back to 1984. You can both browse the newspaper in this database as well as search for specific articles. Continue reading

How Much for that Tummy Tuck? Information on the U.S. Plastic/Cosmetic Surgery Industry

In the U.S., strictly speaking “Plastic Surgery” is surgery performed by Board Certified Plastic Surgeons. Other surgery designed to enhance appearance, for example, a dermatologist removing a facial mole, is described as “Cosmetic Surgery”.

A definition of the industry is provided by IBIS World Industry Reports.

The Industry provides medical techniques to enhance physical appearance for cosmetic or reconstructive purposes ” (IBIS Plastic Surgeons , October 2011).

Two specialty physician professional associations for plastic surgeons that collect data will be helpful in analyzing the industry:

1. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons  – The largest plastic surgery specialty organization. See their procedural statistics page. The Organization reports  performing 13.8 million surgical procedures in 2011.

2. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery members are American Board of Plastic Surgery certified physicians. Their Statistics page, provides data on procedure

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